ALBUM: Shroud of the Heretic – “Revelations in Alchemy” 2014
LABEL: Blood Harvest Records
GENRE: Old School Death Metal
RATING: 6.5 / 10
There was a time when playing Death Metal was accessible. A time when in order to be a death metal drummer you didn’t need the speed and the stamina of a damn olympian athlete. The time when it was ok for a death metal guitar player to play a rusty knock off axe and not have a Berklee Masters Degree in Performance and Jazz Improvisation. Hell, at that time, 4 strings was more than enough for bass players. Death metal was about tone and atmosphere and it certainly didn´t require the discipline or skills of a classical violinist. For those early bands, death metal was meant to be as visceral, heavy and disturbing as humanly possible. Technique was not important, neither was production, and certainly nobody gave a shit about bpm´s (beats per minute)
Shroud of the Heretic serves this primitive purpose, they create their music to be asphyxiating, sinister, hopeless and vile. In my opinion, they play death metal in its purest form. Think of early Incantation, Autopsy or Broken Hope. Obviously this guys don´t care much about the current state of the genre, and they only seem to look back for inspiration. There is a reason somebody tagged them as “new school of old school death metal” in LastFM… The tempo alternates between faster grinding riffs and slower, heavy doom passages that helps create a very ritualistic sound. The vocals are low end, almost undecipherable cavernous grunts. The guitars are simple and very rhythmic, with a tone that i love in my death metal, immense, reverberating and with a lot of buzz. In “Revelations in Alchemy” there is no solos and barely any melody. No fancy drum fills or appealing bass lines. You won´t find anything that beautifies the music or makes it more listenable, because, to this guys, that´s not the purpose of death metal.
Compared to their first EP “Boiled to Death”, “Revelations in Alchemy” brings a more mature and solemn approach, stripping down the song structures in order to keep focus on the atmosphere. The album benefits from this decisions as it feels more cohesive and fully fleshed than their previous effort. As you can already imagine, there’s nothing innovative or unique in this record, but that doesn’t matter if you are looking for a pure experience. If it is old school death/doom metal you want, i don’t see how anyone could be dissapointed by this.
I don’t think Shroud of The Heretic cares about trends (unless NSOOSDM is a thing now), and I, for the sake of nostalgia, hope that it stays that way.
Review by: WN